Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Better than Zoom: Try these free software tools for staying in touch

Filed under
Server
OSS
Web

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an enormous amount of changes in how people work, play, and communicate. By now, many of us have settled into the routine of using remote communication or video conferencing tools to keep in touch with our friends and family. In the last few weeks we've also seen a number of lists and guides aiming to get people set up with the "right" tools for communicating in hard times, but in almost every case, these articles recommend that people make a difficult compromise: trading their freedom in order to communicate with the people they care about and work with.

In times like these it becomes all the more important to remember that tools like Zoom, Slack, and Facebook Messenger are not benign public services, and while the sentiment they've expressed to the global community in responding to the crisis may be sincere, it hasn't addressed the fundamental ethical issues with any piece of proprietary software.

After taking the LibrePlanet 2020 conference online, we received a number of requests asking us to document our streaming setup. As the pandemic grew worse, this gave way to more curiosity about how the Free Software Foundation (FSF) uses free tools and free communication platforms to conduct our everyday business. And while the stereotype of hackers hunched over a white on black terminal session applies to us in some ways, many of the tools we use are available in any environment, even for people who do not have a lot of technical experience. We've started documenting ethical solutions on the LibrePlanet wiki, in addition to starting a remote communication mailing list to help each other advocate for their use.

In the suggestions that follow, a few of the tools we will recommend depend upon some "self-reliance," that is, steering clear of proprietary network services by hosting free software solutions yourself, or asking a technical friend to do it for you. It's a difficult step, and the benefits may not be immediately obvious, but it's a key part of preserving your autonomy in an age of ubiquitous digital control.

Read more

More in Tux Machines

Android Leftovers

Recovering audio from a lost format with open source

Back in the early 2000s, we made a family decision to upgrade the living room stereo. The equipment in place at the time was based on a collection of gear that I had purchased some 20 years earlier when I first had a steady post-university income. That early collection could best be described as "industrial chic," most notably the Hafler amplifiers I had built from kits and the Polk speakers made from some kind of composite wood product and finished with an ugly faux-rosewood vinyl wrap. They produced decent sound, but the dorm-room-style decor just wasn't working out in the living room. Those of you who remember the early 2000s will recall that most of the world was still consuming music on CD. Our family was no exception, and we ended up with a fine CD player that had an interesting feature—it was able to decode regular CDs as well as high-definition-compatible digital (HDCD) discs. According to Wikipedia, HDCD is a proprietary audio encode-decode process that claims to provide increased dynamic range over that of standard Red Book audio CDs, while retaining backward compatibility with existing compact disc players. Read more

today's howtos

Linus Torvalds: "I Hope AVX512 Dies A Painful Death"

Linux creator Linus Torvalds had some choice words today on Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX-512) found on select Intel processors. In a mailing list discussion stemming from the Phoronix article this week on the compiler instructions Intel is enabling for Alder Lake (and Sapphire Rapids), Linus Torvalds chimed in. The Alder Lake instructions being flipped on in GCC right now make no mention of AVX-512 but only AVX2 and others, likely due to Intel pursuing the subset supported by both the small and large cores in this new hybrid design being pursued. Read more Also: The Linux Team Approves New Neutral Terminology background on AVX-512